Malpractice is normally referred to as professional negligence. According to the dictionary, the definition of the word “malpractice” is improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment. The most common examples of malpractice are usually by a medical practitioner, a lawyer, or a public official.
It’s time to add America’s mainstream media to the list. Their malpractice is appalling.
Traditionally the role of the mainstream media in the United States has been to inform the American public. While there are certainly examples throughout history where a particular publisher or broadcaster sought to influence public opinion, in general, the rules of engagement in the United States have always been to provide accurate and complete information and let the public determine what that information meant. During the last twenty years, however, the media has veered further and further from those rules of engagement. The lines between hard news and editorial/opinion content are so blurred at this point that in many news sources you can’t tell the difference.
Broadcast outlets have staked out their own specific advocacy positions, to the left or the right of the center. CNN went four years without being able to say a single positive word about Donald Trump. If he had cured cancer they would have reported that Mr. Trump was putting doctors out of work. Fox News sees the world from the right side of the spectrum. Old traditional publications like the New York Times and The Washington Post make no effort to even feign impartiality. The Washington Post for example, reportedly hired 20 researchers in 2016 specifically to dig up dirt on then-candidate Donald Trump. They hired no one to play that role for the Clinton campaign.
When the Supreme Court rules in June on the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health case, regardless of the outcome we can expect that MSNBC and Fox News have already determined their take. No matter what the Supreme Court says, MSNBC will conclude that Roe v. Wade should stand forever. Fox News will be quite sure that changing that precedent is not only okay but it is also warranted. Whichever network’s argument comes out on the losing side will express outrage and cite national polls supporting their view. Predictable. Not particularly informative, but one could argue that those on either side of the argument have a safe haven from which to get their info. Frankly, that is a ridiculous argument, but we’re told the world needs safe spaces.
The bigger question is at what point does political advocacy cross an even more dangerous line? Is it acceptable for a news outlet to intentionally suppress the truth, simply because it serves their “team?”
Watergate is generally considered to be the greatest scandal in modern American presidential politics. The genesis of the Watergate scandal was a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building in June of 1972. The short version is that the bungled burglary was an attempt by the Nixon campaign to get a sneak peek at the Democrat’s game plan for that year’s Presidential campaign. Then the whole team, including President Nixon, lied about it.
Watergate is so well recognized as the largest American political scandal that nearly every major issue since has been tagged with some version of “-gate” and the public immediately recognizes the term as trouble. Reagan had Irangate. Bill Clinton had Monicagate. Trump had Russiagate.
That last one, Russiagate, refers to President Donald Trump and allegations that he had nefarious connections with Moscow. First, during the 2016 campaign, came the Steel dossier, a file that alleged Donald Trump had cavorted with Moscow prostitutes in the most unsavory ways imaginable. It also purported to have evidence that Mr. Trump had coordinated with the Kremlin in an attempt to sway the outcome of the US election (and we all know how much influence the Russian government has with the typical American voter). Hillary Clinton also pushed, and the mainstream media obligingly repeated, allegations that the Russians had stolen and leaked DNC emails that showed Clinton herself and DNC executives in an unflattering light.
The Trump/Russia connection made little sense and had even less factual evidence to bolster the wild claims but America’s left-leaning, Hillary-loving, Trump-hating media fanned the flames, repeating the broad allegations over and over.
When Trump shocked the world and beat Hillary, the Russia narrative wasn’t dropped. In fact, it was accelerated and eventually clogged much of the political bandwidth that would otherwise have been used by the new president to promote his agenda. Congress investigated, CNN investigated, all news commentated and who could forget the Mueller Report?
Robert Mueller served as the Director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013 and was chosen as Special Counsel to investigate the Trump/Russia allegations. He assembled a team of sixteen attorneys to oversee the various aspects of the investigation and to assemble the results of their inquiry. Thirteen of the sixteen were registered Democrats according to voting records. Three had no party affiliation. None were Republican. Despite the perceived bias, two years of research and more than $30 million in expenditures the Mueller team found no connection between Trump and Russia. None. Zip. Zilch.
During that two-year stretch, however, a person couldn’t watch eight minutes on any cable news channel without mention of the Trump Russia story. Virtually every news outlet issued a daily reminder that the Trump Russia story was the biggest political scandal since Watergate.
The irony of that comparison is that this past week when Special Counsel John Durham, who has been tasked since 2020 with finding the origins of the bogus Russia narrative, released facts implicating the Clinton presidential campaign with fabricating and disseminating the entire hoax, the mainstream media yawned.
If Watergate, a poorly executed burglary was the worst scandal in American presidential political history, how could the American media ignore allegations by a US Attorney, currently acting as Special Prosecutor that in 2016, one presidential candidate’s campaign paid for the fabricated Steele dossier, arranged to have it delivered to Senator John McCain, and arranged to put it in the hands of the FBI? Further, Hillary’s team paid to infiltrate the computer servers at Trump Tower (and later at the White House itself) for the express purpose of, in Mr. Durham’s words, “to establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia.” His report also says Clinton lackeys then took the information to both the CIA and the FBI in an attempt to get them to legitimize the bogus allegations.
The Durham filing in federal court is unambiguous. It has specific allegations. It speaks of specific, documented payments by the Clinton campaign. It references specific emails and correspondence and specific language. What the Special Counsel has spelled out is literally spying on Trump’s home, his business and on The White House.
As you can imagine, Donald Trump thinks this is a pretty big deal. “This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution,” Mr. Trump said. The former President, well known for using inflammatory hyperbole went on to call the actions treason.
This time, President Trump’s comments aren’t hyperbole. He is on the money. If the allegations are true, that is, if there was spying on the Executive Office of the President of the United States with the intent of gathering information for the purpose of taking down the presidency, that is pretty much a textbook example of treason.
Kash Patel was chief “Russiagate” investigator under then-House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes. Appearing on Fox News shortly after the Durham filing Patel said the filing “shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign directly funded and ordered its lawyers at Perkins Coie to orchestrate a criminal enterprise to fabricate a connection between President Trump and Russia.”
If what Mr. Durham says is true, it makes Watergate look like a petty crime. If what Mr. Durham and his team believe can be proven by the facts, Hillary Clinton and her campaign executed a criminal conspiracy in an attempt to steal the Presidential election and later to destroy the presidency of her foe, Donald Trump.
That’s really big news. Unless it’s not.
In the days following Mr. Durham’s filing, the New York Times had no story, nor did The Washington Post. It didn’t warrant attention from CNN or MSNBC. Even the Associated Press, which has nearly 250 news bureaus worldwide and serves nearly 100 countries didn’t see allegations by the US Special Counsel of a criminal conspiracy in the federal elections of the world’s oldest democracy as newsworthy.
THAT is malpractice. The Trump Russia allegations were essentially the only news for two years, but when the origins of that story turn out to have been fabricated and disseminated by his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, there is nothing to see?
Advocating for a political candidate or issue while masquerading as news is poor journalism, but sadly there is a market for that. Completely ignoring federal court filings regarding potential conspiracy by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign? That’s not advocacy. That’s willful misconduct. That is intentionally keeping information from the public because it may not fit some broad political mathematics. It’s dishonest. It’s negligent. At best, it is incompetent.
The Editors of the various mainstream news outlets need to take a look in the mirror and determine if they actually intend to report the news. Anything less than digging into the details of the Hillary Clinton campaign spying and conspiracy, regardless of where those facts lead and sharing that information with the American public, is willfully exercising Media Malpractice.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.
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